Release Date: October 29, 2002
Reviewed by Andy Schwegler
No title, no tracklisting, no lyrics just “Hopelandic” To say that Sigur Ros emphasizes their music rather than lyrics is an understatement. An ultimate removal of any spoken/written interpretation of the music (even if it’s in their native Icelandic) begs to question whether or not it can retain its mood and impact. Removing an element that most modern music so heavily relies on, can either one, dramatically increase the content and volume of the music, or two, completely dissolve the impact that it tries to create. Leaving it as merely background, elevator music.
Thankfully this release holds up in the former. With the singer’s beautiful, fragile voice providing another wonderful texture into the already dense integration of string based, percussion, sampling, and keyboards that occurs throughout the album. Even with no recognition of the “words” in this or any other album, you can tell that with this album there’s a specific treatment to the vocals that create a more fluid integration, where in their other albums, there is a greater disconnection between the vocals and music which places a greater emphasis on those vocals.
The beauty also rests in the overall composition of the album, rather than in the individual songs. Certain tracks blend together; creating a seamless composition that provides many ups and downs, while slowly building in intensity only to be interrupted and brought back down. This occurs wonderfully in the break between track four and five. Almost as an intermission, or break from the journey only to build back up within the track itself. This happens a countless number of times throughout the entire album, with the final track providing one big last hoorah complete with full string back up and amazing, hair raising notes hit by the singer. These interesting and beautiful waves of emotion and intensity resemble classically composed music, like the concertos of Bach or the timeless symphonies of Beethoven. Not to say that they should be placed within the ranks but merely as a reflection of a period of time when there was a greater importance placed on the entire piece of work.
With all of these two-three minute all-you-can-give cuts that have become the standard where centuries ago it was commonplace to see a twenty minute composition, it’s a wonderful departure to see a band such a Sigur Ros gain such popularity and recognition within the context of an MTV generation.